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Extracts from Niger Mission. C. A3/O4 Rev. Samuel Adjai Crowther. Letters & Papers 1857-63
(copy of Dr. Baikies letter) Bida, 2nd March 1862
When we parted last September it was my intention to have despatched a messenger for Lagos early in October but various things occurred to prevent me. First of all their (sic) was a great run upon me for goods, & I had to attend to everything myself - then I wished to send a chart of the Confluence & map of Sudan, for which latter all my materials were not quite complete, & indeed, this latter I have only completed within the last 10 days. Then I had a slight attack of illness, which, however, prevented me from writing for nearly 10 days. Partly I put it off till I could reach Bida owing to pressures of business & some matters around us requiring settling. I did not leave Lukoja till December, intending if possible, to leave for Hausa in January. But first no sooner had I left than the Gbebe people assumed a hostile attitude & came for the purpose of driving off Nda Meraki. But they were divided among themselves, & though all came out, more than half had no wish to see Nda Meraki go, as they had found the benefit of the increased trade & abundant cheap provisions caused by the trade we had established, so all ended in smoke, but it detained me in Bida, as I had to send messengers & wait the answers, as I knew it not at first whether my presence might not be necessary The prime mover was Semakoji, not the one in Gbebe whom you knew, but he is in Sitakun, whom we frightened from Ajara, as he detested us, as he is no longer the great man he was, nor can he seize canoes & levy contributions, & stop trade as formerly. Then one of my people, a lad from Adamawa whom Abbega was sending with cloth to me, stood on his road through Bonu gambled away my goods, causing me a loss of several bags of cowries. All these things have detained me till now but at last I hope to get off during this week, & to be able to reach Zariya & Kano I have held on this line, as it might possibly be my last chance of getting to Hausa. My purposes are first to connect our travels with those of Vogel & Barth 2nd to reach for some of Vogel's papers at Kano. 3rd To see for myself the commercial resources of Hausa & how commerce with England can be best promoted & for benefit of my own health, my long stay at Lukoja & my two months detention here making a little change for me advisable & I am never better than while travelling - I came from Lukoja by canoe to examine the river when low, & on reaching a town named Ditsu where we disembarked, I walked 15 miles or nearly to Bida rather than wait for a horse, which speaks fairly for my health. Indeed, the whole way, though in a hot sun. I kept ahead of my people & was less tired at the end. One reason of my walking was because there is an idea that we white men could not walk so I wished to show them the contrary - At first they said that we could not work, but at Lukoja I taught them that we could.. The King is as he always has been, very kind to me, he is singular man, despotic & not valuing life, yet with much kindness & a considerable regard for justice. Most active & indefatiguable, he sees to every thing himself, transacts all kinds of business very shrewd & with a wonderful memory. I cannot help regarding his friendship for us, his giving us land at Lukoja his support of us, as meant by Providence to be a means opening up this great continent to us, & of this ultimately leading, to the benefit of its oppressed races. I gave him your present, & thanked him for his kindness to Thomas. He was most pleased with it & asked kindly after you. The silk Plush he had made into a woman's covering.
I left Abbega in charge at Lukoja hitherto he seemed to have acted prudently, & I have told him he is now in his trial & that if he behaves well in my absence it may lead to his being further trusted. I have had him building mud houses for me, & I made him begin teaching 3 little girls there to read; & I hear they are getting on well. The little boy I had sent to Gbebe during my absence, as he was getting led astray by the company of a boy at Lukoja. I paid the ransom money of Akwa the pilot to Meiza. He is now at Lukoja working for me. I also was obliged to take possession of Yeye Tsade's wife as a great stir was made about her - so I forcibly took her out of the poweer of the Gbebe people as a get off for a debt of 100,000 cowries due to me by a relative of Yeye's mistress. This mistress of hers is a most vindictive black hearted woman; merely on account of Yeye she first nearly starved a daughter of Yeye's, who had been born & brought up in her own yard, & then sold her to Idda & her wish was this to get hold of Yeye & imprison her which has been the reason of my taking active steps. The excitement was so great that I could not leave her behind me, as though, I can myself will & keep in check these wild people. Abbega could not, so I brought her here & here she has found a near relative, who has been many years in Nupe, & who is now in tolerably easy circumstances - so I have let Yeye live with her for the present - Tsado annoys me much. he is a great heathen & since I have been here, has [illg.] forbidden festivals, in honour of his idols, which [illeg]. I have redeemed another girl a [illeg.] one of my people. from the Kukuruku or Benin district of Ikpira. We met with her on our way here and the Fulo in whose family she lived consented to my redeeming her _ paid rather heavily 200,000 cowries but never allow the matter of a few cowries to stand between me the liberty of a fellow creature, when possibly their future welfare may also be dependant on it. There are again 2 young girls sisters of my people here in Bida, whom I shall redeem as soon as I manage to raise the money. Thus you see our members are increasing, & I am looking for help to you, as it is for their welfare [and] Christianizing that I am thus acting. All this redemption money is my own, & I am trusting earnestly to your coming & taking these children off my hands - I have my own opinion about slaves - if during my travels a slave was offered to me I would at once accept - as I know that with me they are no longer slaves - & that possibly the slaves may be taught the truths of our holy religion, while left as a slave. This is most unlikely & nothing but absolute want of means would prevent my endeavouring to rescue them.
Eva the child whom you baptized is well & hearty I have brought her here with me - as I was afraid to leave her at home, not knowing what might happen to her or what she be taught & believing that a child can not too soon be taught to recognize its parents & to be taught right from wrong wherever I go except into actual danger she goes with me I am very found of her & since she has been with me - I have somehow learnt to take kinder and softer views of things around me - My daily prayer is that she may be spared to become of some use to the land of her birth - She needs much care, as being a very intelligent child she attracts much too much attention from all around.
[ typeovers and blanks] accounts from Lukoja a few days ago the mission at Gbebe. Reader had found & wished to redeem a country woman, [ ] I started I advanced him for more I shall see what I can do - My funds are less than I reckon as I have had a few losses & several unlooked for heavy expenses the market is most promising - I have realized high rates of  the demand for English goods is tremendous -any amount might now be disposed of - I have noted all the kinds on demand; at the Confluence, here - the Hausa people, wish their prices in cowries - I have sent the list home - If messengers return to me please send a small parcel for the mission as they say their funds are low.
The road by Ilorin is still doubtful & not much followed though a few people arrive. But during the last few days many have come from Ibadan by Etsu, & report so hopefully that I think I shall send Otso by that route - I hope I may find messengers on my return from Hausa.
And now Mr. Crowther, you have seen us, & what we have done how we stand - Pray leave nothing undone to bring us op[?] aid - The harvest truly is great but at present there are no labourers. For myself I ask nothing beyond the satisfaction of seeing Englishmen & English Missionaries conducting the commerce & leading the civilization of this great country & I trust that none of those who come after me may suffer either my anxious days nor watchful nights, nor the hunger & other privations I have experienced - I trust my labours, imperfect feeble as they have been, may somewhat save others who are yet to come, & help to pave the way however poorly, for those who may be destined to preach the faith of Christ & teach the love of God in the countries on the Niger;
Ever, my dear Mr. Crowther, very faithfully yours
Bida, 10th April 1862
Dear Mr. Crowther, Bida, 10th April 1862.
At length I am sending off my mails & Otso is making ready for a start. He is to go to Ilorin & there make enquiries as to the best route. We have heard so many reports about Yoruba & the war that we know not what to believe.
Acquaintance of yours at Badagri, a BaGobiri from Brazil desires to be remembered to you, & asks me to tell you he is going to send 2 boys of his to you to be put to school but wishes, only you will prevent them from eating pork, on which I told him you would not wish to shock any prejudice of his. I heard yesterday from Gbebe & Lukoja, all are well but the Mission needs your assistance soon. A Yoruba man has made off 80,000 cowries in their debt, & I hope I shall catch him here in a day or two & I have told the King of him. On the 12th I leave for Kano & hope to be back here in 2 months.
And now I must conclude as I have written since daylight I am very tired. I know you will do all you can for us here & that you will not forget the numbers who are anxiously looking for your return or those also who are now in my hands I hope; for future good - I have at present many difficulties to contend against but I trust for assistance to that same Providence who has watched over us & guarded us hitherto.
Ever my dear Mr. Crowther, yours very faithfully,